Hot and windy weather fuels dangerous wildfires throughout the state


Wildfires are popping up around the state as parts of Minnesota continue to experience dry and windy weather.

More than 100 fires broke out Monday and early Tuesday across the northern half of the state, Forum News Service reports.

On Wednesday, firefighters and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources crews responded to a wind-driven wildfire in Lyons State Forest, northwest of Staples, Brainerd Dispatch says.

They were armed with a tanker that held 3,000-gallons of water, a helicopter, ground vehicles, and an air team that included water scooping aircraft, but the fire managed to destroy about 100 acres, the Minnesota Incident Command System says.

The fire is 40 percent contained behind a bulldozed perimeter, MNICS said Thursday. Crews continue to check smoldering embers to prevent spread from the containment line.

No buildings were affected, and no injuries were reported, they said.

National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning

Portions of West Central and Northwest Minnesota are experiencing critical fire weather conditions due to low relative humidity and gusty Southwest winds of 10-20 mph.

Hennepin County currently has a High Fire Danger rating, which means that fires can start easily and fuels like dry grass and needles ignite readily, Hennepin County Emergency Management said on Facebook.

See the Minnesota DNR's current fire danger ratings on the map below.

When in doubt, don't burn

The DNR says 98 percent of wildfires are caused by humans, urging people to be careful with gas lanterns, barbecue grills, gas stoves and anything that can start a wildfire.

If a fire escapes, the homeowner is responsible for the damage and suppression costs, DNR said.

The agency spent over $30 million dollars last year fighting the flames.

So far this year, 448 fires have burned down 4,666 acres, according to MNICS.

All Minnesota counties require burning permits, and will enforce additional burning restrictions as conditions require, the DNR says.

The agency's Spring Burning Restrictions prohibit leaf and brush pile burning, which have decreased wildfires by 36 percent since 2001.

The map above shows a chunk in northern Minnesota currently has no burning permits or campfires allowed.

"We are in a very dangerous weather pattern with the heat and high winds and being very dry. Anyone burning during this time, may be fined," Sheriff Bill Bergquist of Clay County told BringMeTheNews.

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DNR warns of wildfire dangers

The DNR has is urging people to be careful with outdoor fires and requiring them to obtain a permit before burning brush because of unseasonably dry conditions. A fire on Monday in Polk County burned 750 acres of woods and land. Permits are available from local fire wardens or the DNR.

Minnesota still below average for wildfires

Minnesota officials have counted 997 wildfires in the state this year, surpassing 2011 by about 300 fires. But the average for the state is a little more than 1,500 wildfires, and in some years in recent decades Minnesota has had as many as 3,000 blazes.